Heavy Coats (and Eternity)

With the passing of poet Mary Oliver, it seems fitting to quote her:
“Sometimes the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor. With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me, so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them. Now in the spring I kneel, I put my face into the packets of violets, the dampness, the freshness, the sense of ever-ness. Something is wrong, I know it, if I don’t keep my attention on eternity. May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe, tiny but useful. May I stay forever in the stream. May I look down upon the windflower and the bull thistle and the coreopsis with the greatest respect.”

It’s fitting to talk about and discard any heavy coats we should shed. Also fitting to let the kids try on a heavy firefighter’s coat (hey, it fits with the theme!).

Eternity seems pretty heavy but actually: the sense of “ever-ness” that Mary Oliver describes has the potential to free us up to be deeply present here and now while faithfully keeping our attention on eternity.